Caitlin Johnstone: Israel accused of torturing UN workers to obtain false testimony about UNRWA


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COMMENTARY: By Caitlin Johnstone

A recent UNRWA document says its staff report having been tortured while detained by Israeli forces, who pressed them to provide false statements about ties between the agency and Hamas.

“The document said several UNRWA Palestinian staffers had been detained by the Israeli army, and added that the ill-treatment and abuse they said they had experienced included severe physical beatings, waterboarding, and threats of harm to family members,” Reuters reports, saying UNRWA workers “reported having been pressured by Israeli authorities into falsely stating that the agency has Hamas links and that staff took part in the October 7 attacks.”

This is another one of those stories about Israeli offences that are so stunning that at first you can mistakenly believe you must not be reading it correctly  —  especially since the Western political-media class haven’t been treating it like the jarring news that it is.

If we had anything remotely like an objective news media in the Western world, reports that Israel tortured United Nations staff to get them to make false statements against a UN aid agency would be the top story everywhere for days.

Many, including myself, speculated that torture was involved in obtaining the Israeli “intelligence” behind initial claims of UNRWA staff involvement in the October 7 attack when this narrative first surfaced back in January.

A senior Israeli official told Axios at the time that Israeli intelligence agencies came upon the information about the UNRWA staffers largely through “interrogations of militants who were arrested during the October 7 attack.”

Israel has an extensive history of using torture in its interrogations, and there is no reason to believe such methods haven’t been used on captured Hamas fighters in recent months  —  but reports that it was actual UN staff being tortured are something new.

Flimsiest allegations
We may be certain that if it was Hamas being accused of torturing workers for international aid agencies in order to extract false confessions, we’d never hear the end of it.

To this day unsubstantiated rumours of mass systemic sexual violence on October 7 continue to dominate the headlines resulting in scandalous instances of journalistic malpractice, despite the Israeli spinmeisters behind those reports having a much worse track record than UNRWA in the truth-telling department and UNRWA standing much less to gain than Israel by lying.

But that’s what the information ecosystem looks like in the shadow of the empire.

The flimsiest allegations against enemies of the US-centralised power alliance are spun as gospel truth and kept in the headlines for months, while even the most damning evidence against the empire never gets anything better than a cursory nod from the mass media and is then promptly memory-holed as the daily news churn moves on.

Caitlin Johnstone is an independent Australian journalist and poet. Her articles include The UN Torture Report On Assange Is An Indictment Of Our Entire Society. She publishes a website and Caitlin’s Newsletter. This article was first published here and is republished under a Creative Commons licence.

Cafe Pacific Publisher
Cafe Pacific Publisher
Café Pacific's duty editor.
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